Thursday, January 23, 2014

Our schedule

Many of you know I was hoping to start a new schedule this year. Unfortunately, our new childcare plans fell through, so our schedule will stay the same. The kids will continue to go to their school uptown, which is a good 30-40 minutes from our home. It is only 5 minutes from mine and David's offices, which is convenient, but it's tough on Mondays when I don't go to the office.

I'll admit, I was bummed at first. Really I was frustrated and angry. And then it dawned on me...there was really no reason for me to be upset about this. Many women have a worse schedule than I do and less supportive helpmates and family. So...seeing that my schedule isn't going to change, I've decided to change my attitude. This season is only as hard as you make it, right? I mean, I have a supportive husband who is willing to take the kids to school three days a week so that I can get my hours in at work. That means he gets up and gets the kids completely ready all by himself. And I have a mom and MIL who alternate keeping my kids one day a week while I work. Plus, I have some loyal babysitters I can count on, if needed.

Here is our current schedule:

I wake up at 6:45am to give myself time to get ready before I have to wake AJ at 8. Xander's usually up around 7 or so, but he's pretty self-sufficient and doesn't need much before breakfast.
I get AJ up at 8 and make sure both kids are fed and dressed.
We leave the house at 8:45 to drop X off at school by 9:30.
AJ and I run errands/hang out/have adventures until 1:15 when we pick up X.
AJ sleeps generally from 2-5 while X and I play/do housework.
5-6:30pm is our witching hour. I try to let the kids play for a bit if they will while I get supper together. More often than not they end up watching a couple of episodes of Jake. I'm going to try to start incorporating some fun, active games at this seems to help them to stay active until dinner. With the cold weather I can't send them outside to play like I can when it's warmer.
David gets home around 6:30 and we eat supper.
The kids get baths, stories, pajamas on and are in bed around 7:30-8.

I wake up at 5:15am to leave the house by 6:45.
I get to work at 7:30 and work until 12:30.
David gets the kids up and ready for school to drop them off at 9:30, which means he gets to work at 10.
I pick the kids up at 1:15 and get them home so AJ can go down for nap by 2.
X and I play/clean while AJ sleeps.
5-6:30pm we go through our typical needy/clingy/whiny time. I feed the kids earlier on these days and try to have them bathed and ready for bed by 7. Then I either put them to bed myself or David gets in and helps with the last few stories.
David gets home between 7:30 and 8.
(Wednesdays we have our small group, so the babysitter comes at 6:30 and I meet David for group at that location. The babysitter does baths and bedtime.)

I wake up at 5:15am to leave the house by 6:45.
I get to work at 7:30am and work until 6pm. A long, 10-hour work day on Thursdays.
David gets the kids up and ready for school to drop them off at 9:30, which means he gets to work at 10. Our moms alternate weeks of picking the kids up from school and keeping them at the house.
I get home around 6:45. The kids have eaten, and last week my mom had them in their pj's so they were mostly ready for bed. That was a HUGE help.
I'm usually exhausted on Thursday nights, plus the kids haven't seen me all day so they're pretty needy. Those are the hardest times for me.
I put them down around 7:30 or 8, about the time David's getting home.

Free days!
David works from 9-6 and the kids and I are at home.
I try to schedule something fun - I start MOPS tomorrow which means twice a month I'll be attending a meeting or social activity with other moms while my kids get to play with the kids there.
Some days we have pajama days and never get out of the house. Other days we go to the park or rec center and play. Some days we visit Daddy at work and take him lunch. Other days we go to the library or visit with friends.
I usually have laundry to catch up on and always some kind of housework that needs to be done, but I do try to spend some fun time with the kids.

So, that's it! I mean, really, it could be worse. I just need to remember to see the positive side of things.

Random realizations

When my mother was 33 years old she had a first and a fourth grader.
I am currently 33 and have a 2 and a 4 year old.

I've lived in the country, on a farm, in a town, in a neighborhood, in a suburb, in a college town, on a college campus and in the city. They all had their pros and cons, but I really did like each one of them for their own attributes.

My husband and I have known each other for 28 years. That's bizarre to me when I think about it. I met him when I was Xander's age (a couple of months before I turned 5), if that puts things into perspective.

I really want a pet. They're messy and dirty. They take a lot of time to keep up with. They shed. They need attention. They're a huge responsibility. They can be expensive. But, for some reason, I want one anyway. Sadly, my husband does not. He'll most likely win on this least for now.

Fluorescent lights hurt my eyes. We have them in my office and when I come in I only turn on one set. My co-workers know this about me and can often tell who's in the office because of this. I didn't really pay attention to this until recently when one of my co-workers pointed it out.

Washi tape is super-fun.

Pop quiz, hotshot

I really love taking those stupid quizzes on buzzfeed.
I've learned I should've lived in the 60's.
That if I lived in a fictional city, it would be Hogsmeade.
I am Silver Linings Playbook J. Law.
I am the Pixar Movie "Up."
I should actually live in Barcelona.
I am the Muppet character Miss Piggy.
And I am the character Schmidt on the TV show New Girl. I guess I need a jar?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stomach bug

I know this is crazy considering I have two children, one almost 5 and the other 2, but I've never had one of them have a stomach bug with me before. Xander had a stomach bug a couple of years ago, but it was over the holidays and David was home with him when he was actually throwing up. I was at work. I timed that well. :)
Xander had a reaction to a medication once and threw up on me - that was about 3 years ago.
And of course I've been spit up on numerous times, though my kids weren't big spitters. And spit up is a total different beast than real-life vomit.
My kids just haven't been very sick overall. AJ's had her bouts with allergies and congestion issues, but not puking. Xander's been extremely healthy as far as preschoolers go, with just an occasional cold (or hand, foot and mouth disease - twice), but not much experience with vomit.

I met my match today.

Xander had fallen asleep on the couch while I laid Amelia Jayne down, which is highly unusual. I figured he was just tired, so I went upstairs to call a friend. It seemed perfect since my friend and I had been trying to catch up with each other and we had a phone date planned for this afternoon.
Then, all of a sudden, I hear crying and tell her I need to let her go. I found Xander upset in the bathroom. I figured he'd woken up, needed to use the bathroom and was just discombobulated. He wanted me to hold him, so I did. He wanted me to sit with him in his room on his bed, so I did.

And then he threw up on me.

He's asleep on the couch right now, as I type this.
Bless his little heart.
I may never eat oranges again...

Thursday, January 16, 2014


This might be too many pictures, and definitely late, considering they're Christmas. However, I haven't posted many pics lately and I really do have some good ones to share!
Making cupcakes for Jesus's birthday!

Cookies and milk for Santa!

Reading the Christmas story together on Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning breakfast. What a ham!

Posing. Don't mind the cords...

Christmas morning, Xander came running into our 8:45! What a blessing to be able to sleep in!

Sweet Christmas kisses

Two of my favorites

Such great reactions! She loved tearing open the presents!

Figuring it out...

I love the way my husband looks when he's watching our children. :)

She was fascinated!

Love how the two of them play so well together.

Mommy Mondays

Now that Xander goes to preschool 4 mornings a week, Amelia Jayne and I have Monday mornings together. Xander has dubbed them "Mommy Mondays." I also drop him off at school AND pick him up so he gets to see me more on Mondays, too.
I'm trying to think of fun things to do on Mondays for me and my girl. I hate to go back home since it's such a long drive, so I'm trying to run errands in town (that I can with a 2-year old), plus throw in some fun adventures for her.
This past Monday we went to the mall. I didn't realize until we were almost there that Amelia Jayne has never been to a mall before. She kept asking me, "Is this the mall, Mommy?" every few minutes when she would look out the window. I had to get my phone fixed so we went to the Apple store. She had a great time playing on the iPads and singing songs. After finishing up there and then walking around the mall for a bit we got some lunch and a special cookie treat.

Some other things I'm thinking of doing with her:
Ray's Splash Planet offers preschool days two Mondays a month.
Rec Center playrooms
Story time at the library
Going for walks/playing at the park when the weather is nicer
Meeting up with a couple of my mom friends who have kids Amelia Jayne's age
Visiting Daddy at work for an early lunch
Any other suggestions? What are some outings you or someone you know likes to take with little ones?
This site had some great ideas for day-long or family-type trips.

Interesting articles and random facts

I don't know if this grocery tip will be helpful, but I figured I'd share it. It's intriguing! I'm going to look into it further to see if it's worth my time. Tasha has 5 kids, so I can certainly see why it would be helpful for her!

I've read four of these books already and I'm considering reading a few more. They look pretty fascinating! I always get excited about seeing a novel come to life in the movies...even if they don't always do a great depiction of it.

I was at work, looking through some possible book titles for Valentine's Day and ran across this list. If you have little ones around you might consider reading a few of these for the holiday! I put quite a few of them on hold at my library.

I think I mentioned the rebranding of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library - here's a short video about it. I recognize a few of the voices on there, too. :)

Don't forget about Xander's preschool class blog! You can keep up with what he's learning and doing in school. :)
One of my favorite things lately is when I pick the kids up from preschool. Amelia Jayne always wants to hold her artwork in her hands so she can run up to Xander when we get to his class and show him what she's made. Then they compare their artwork from that day. It's so sweet to hear Xander's exclamations of, "Oh! It's so pretty!" or "That's a really cool ________." or "I just love what you made!" And Amelia Jayne's ooh's and aah's and occasional, "Cool."

I know I'm a nerd, but I did the math and Xander will reach his 2000th day on August 17th of this year. I'm so happy for him and so sad at the same time. I don't want to see that little guy grow up! And yet, I do. What a confusing mess of emotions I have! Check out this website on why the first 2000 days of a child's life matter.
FYI: Xander starts kindergarten on August 25th...he'll be 2008 days old!

Here's a great companion to A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman, called Seven Little Ways to Live Art. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Silly Selfies

The kids love for me to take pictures of them lately. It might partially be due to Xander getting a camera for Christmas, but they are so excited to see their own pictures! Xander wants to take pictures of his toys, mainly his cars. He sets them up on display and takes a picture of just one at a time. :)

Here are some silly pics we took the other night...
Yes, I am wearing Minnie mouse ears. :)

Oops! I cut Xander's head off!


I get easily exasperated with my kids when it comes to their manners. Few things peeve me more than people who are rude and unkind.

My children are typical preschoolers. They snatch things from each other, yell, shout "No!" fairly frequently and even become physical at times. However, I'm noticing little changes in their behavior as we talk through the issues at hand. Lately, instead of just telling Xander he's not being kind or to stop being rude, I've been giving him examples of what he could've said or done differently in certain circumstances.

So imagine how excited I was yesterday when Amelia Jayne was carrying around his back pack and instead of quickly snatching it away and yelling how that was his, instead he calmly said, "Amelia Jayne, I'd really like to carry my own back pack. May I have it, please?" YES! These are the words that came out of his mouth!! Amelia Jayne is so compliant when you're kind to her that of course her answer was, "Sure!"

Later that same day Amelia Jayne was trying to get Xander to play with something, so she was basically forcing it into his hands. He clearly didn't want it, but she was not reading his cues. Instead of having an outburst or pushing the toy away, Xander said to her, "I don't really want to play with that right now. Let's play with it later." AJ wasn't as happy about that response, but she accepted it when I intervened.

I told Xander both times how proud I was of his attitude, behavior and kindness to his sister. He, like many preschoolers I'm sure, often responds with an outburst, tears or full-on tantrum. I'm happy to see some minor (and not-so-minor) changes. I'll take every little win I can get!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Coconut Oil

Ummm, so do y'all know about the benefits of coconut oil? I had heard of great uses for coconut oil over the past few months, bought a big tub of the stuff not long after I heard about it, but only about a month ago started using it regularly. I haven't started taking it internally yet, but have thoroughly seen improvements on the outside.

I have been using it on my skin as a lotion for about a month. It is amazing how soft it makes my skin. Even David commented on it! I started using it on Amelia Jayne because she and I both have some eczema issues. Her eczema really flares up, probably because she's so young and the weather has been bitterly cold.

Recently I used it as a deep conditioner for my hair. I was nervous at first after talking to a friend of mine who used it and had to shampoo her hair 5 times to get the stuff out. I decided to focus on the ends and not even use it on my scalp. I kept it in overnight, slept with a shower cap on (definitely doing this one when David was at his Mom's with the kids and I was alone) and showered the next morning. Everything I read said to shampoo your hair twice to get it out, but I shampooed my hair three times as an extra precaution. It turned out great! I think I probably could have washed it just twice. I'll be trying that next time. I dried my hair and didn't add any other product. I straightened my hair and it looked pretty terrific. I was surprised, considering I didn't use any other products. I tend to have frizzy hair, but it wasn't frizzy at all. Of course, environment plays a huge role in my hair. If the weather is humid, hot, dry, cold, or many other combinations.

I don't know how many of these uses I'll try, but there sure are a lot!

These are the ones I've tried: 

4. Use as a super conditioner on your hair (apply to dry hair, leave in as long as possible and then shampoo as normal).
5. Use as a styling agent if you have really dry hair. Just rub a tiny bit on your palms and apply to your hair and style as normal.
6. Keep a little container in your purse for lip moisturizer.
11. Use a tiny dab on your underarms for a natural deodorant
21. Use on the delicate tissue around your eyes to help prevent wrinkles and sagging.
23. Use in place of massage oil.
49. Use on cracked or rough heals to help smooth them out.
50. Massage into your nails and cuticles to help strengthen them.
71. Use on color-treated hair for extra conditioning hair treatment.
77. Use to help control and reduce eczema and/or psoriasis symptoms.

I would do them all again! Except for maybe didn't seem to do much either way. I do have a friend who swears by a recipe she has - it has arrowroot powder and corn starch in it. We'll see...
Note about #5 - I used the coconut oil to tame fly-aways, not really as a styling agent. My hair's not  dry enough to warrant that.

I'm interested in trying these:

2. Use it as the base for a homemade body scrub.
3. Use to condition your wooden cutting boards.
8. Replace nasty, unhealthy vegetable oils in your kitchen with coconut oil.
12. Use coconut oil instead of shaving cream.
13. Add to your bath tub for a moisturizing soak

22. Use as the base for homemade toothpaste or lotion. (not sure about homemade toothpaste, but it sounds interesting!)
38. Use as a metal polish, but always test a small area first.
39. Use as a leather moisturizer.
40. Season your cast iron pans.
41. Use to oil your pans and baking dishes instead of pan spray.
42. Got gum stuck in your hair? Try using coconut oil to remove without cutting your hair. (hoping not to have to use this, but I'll keep it in mind if needed)
43. Use instead of WD-40. 
61. Use on pimples and acne. (I'm nervous about this - oil on acne?? Hmmm...)
62 Use on toast instead of butter (best cinnamon toast ever!).
64. Use a little bit on a damp cloth to clean a scummy shower. Wipe with coconut oil, then spray with white vinegar and wipe dry.
65. Use to treat lice. (again, I hope to not have to use this, but you never know!)
85. Helps smooth wrinkles and shrink pores. (again with the use of oil on my pores...I just don't know)
94. Use coconut oil to detail the inside of your car (add a little to a soft cloth and polish).
109. Use on your plant’s leaves instead of chemical-filled leaf shine. (if I had plants, that is...)
111. Use to remove chewing gum from your shoe, carpet, or other unsavory areas where gum has gotten stuck. (see number 42)

If you have pets there seem to be lots of uses for them, as well.

Anybody heard of oil pulling? I might try that, too...

What my kids are into these days...

Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Xander asked for Jake's tiki hut for Christmas. He got some other toys, too - Bucky the ship, the Jolly Roger, and Jake's sail wagon. Both of my kids can sing every word of the theme song. They have toys, figurines, bath toys, coloring books, books, and stickers. Amelia Jayne wakes up in the morning asking for Jake. She's a tad bit addicted (I think she has a crush), but then she's somewhat addicted to TV in general. They're both thrilled that season 2 is now on Netflix. And honestly, I am too. We all needed some new material!!

My kids LOVE Frozen! Xander and David went to the theater over the holiday break for some special father/son time and they both loved it. David told me he thought AJ would do fine (we had some fairly unsuccessful experiences in the past taking her to Monsters University and Planes), so we all went a few days later. AJ sat through the whole thing! She didn't get out of our laps one time - amazing! She was captivated. We all loved it and now the kids can't stop asking for the soundtrack or video clips ("bideos" as Amelia Jayne calls them). These are some of our favorites, though we've seen them all many times. Enjoy! And if you haven't seen the movie - GO!

Angry Birds Go!
Really this is just something Xander is into. Amelia Jayne has no interest. Xander has loved Angry Birds for awhile - the app, the board game. He even got some plush flingers for Christmas. But man, combine cars with just about anything and Xander will love it, but something he already loves? It was bound to be a hit.

Speaking of Cars...
That boy is still into cars! He got a Hot Wheels car maker for Christmas and a race track. He loves it! He also got some legos that he much prefers building cars and planes out of than buildings.
My cousin and her boyfriend stopped in Charlotte on their way to Maryland over the holidays. Meagan's boyfriend, Kelly, has a mustang (which Xander loves). He offered to show Xander, who immediately adopted him as his best friend. Kelly even let Xander sit in the driver seat and look under the hood! He was in heaven!
He has a free app called sports car challenge. It's a racing game, but the part that he loves even more than racing is picking his car, the color, etc. You can read up on the cars, look inside, spin it around to look at the whole outside, etc. That particular game only races high-end cars, so he now knows all about bugattis, lamborghinis, audis, volkswagens, bentleys, and porsches. Each car comes with its own stats and details. It cracks me up when Xander tells me how much horsepower each car has. He was very impressed recently when he found out one of the lamborghinis (his favorite) has 700 horsepower. If you're at all interested in cars, just get into a conversation with Xander. He's a pro. :)
We've almost talked him into being a nascar engineer. If he's gonna have a career in cars, why not? Plus, we live in the right place, man.

Amelia Jayne is getting more and more into dolls. She got a new doll for Christmas with some accessories - a high chair, crib, stroller, etc. We went to visit a friend of mine last Friday who has a three-week-old baby. Amelia Jayne was in awe. I was afraid at first that she would be jealous that I was holding her, but all she could do was stare at her and keep talking about "how wittle tiny she is" and "wook at her teeny toes." My friend was kind enough to let my kids "hold" the baby, touch her toes, and stare at her little face. Amelia Jayne must have said the "this little piggy" rhyme 6 or 7 times. She exclaimed over the birds on her outfit, the cap on her head, her teeny socks, when she opened her eyes, yawned. Everything was fascinating to her. Xander held her for about 2 seconds and had had enough. :) The difference in boys and girls, I guess.
I recently learned that we're getting an American Doll store at Southpark Mall in Charlotte this fall. I can't wait to take her!!

What are your kids into??

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

13 Simple Pleasures from 2013

I may just take the whole month of January to reflect on last year and look toward the future. Apparently "Be Present" no longer applies...ha!
Here's one more thing I've been thinking about for the past couple of weeks.

I enjoyed many things in 2013.
Here are some of my favorites. In no particular order...

1. The kitchen in my new house.
It is like heaven. I want to cook more because of that kitchen. I want to spend most of the time in my house in that room. It is fantastic.

2. Starting over.
Moving into a different house gave me opportunities to rearrange things and redecorate with my old stuff. I could put furniture where I wanted, pictures somewhere new, dishes in a new cupboard. I got to start over. And with that, I was reminded that we all get to start over. Each day is new. We can choose to start over at any moment. I find myself starting my day over many times throughout the day. And man, am I glad that's an option.

3. Breathing.
When my son is upset or frustrated I tell him to breathe deeply. Now when he gets upset he'll tell me that he needs to breathe and, through sobs, he'll ask me to help him. We breathe together - deep breaths through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
And through this interaction with my son, I've learned how marvelous this technique really is in my own life. If I take a moment to breathe deeply before answering a hard question or dealing with something difficult, the situation seems more bearable.
Aside: Amelia Jayne now asks to breathe with me, too. :)

4. Watching my daughter blossom before my very eyes.
In 2013 Amelia Jayne was that age that seems to change so dramatically. I basically watched her turn into a little child this year. She learned to talk, to have an opinion, to run and jump. She goes potty, pretends to read to herself, plays with dolls, and attempts to brush her own teeth. I've watched her make decisions, get aggravated, make good and bad choices, learn to share willingly and sometimes get angry about sharing. She's done so many things this year that I can't even begin to express. And I feel so blessed that I get to be a part of it.

5. Confidence.
This is something that really comes and goes in my life. Though I know I'm not an expert at anything really, I've gained confidence in areas that I've struggled with in the past. Being a mother and wife are top on the list. It's interesting to me that when I lack confidence in one area it tends to bleed over into other areas of my life. I'm thankful that I'm a bit more confident these days in at least some areas of my life.

6. Time spent with my mom, even if it consists mostly of phone conversations.
I can't tell you how many times I've called my mom with questions about parenting, seeking advice and wisdom about life decisions, or just to chat. She's a wonderful lady and someone I greatly treasure having in my life.

7. Reading books.
I've tried to be more intentional about reading this year. I think I've done a much better job at taking the time to read. That makes me happy. :)

8. Conversations with my son.
He is such an intriguing little guy! He takes himself way too seriously and has a real obsession with needing to win and be first, and even though our conversations exasperate me sometimes, there have been many times I've left them with a feeling of awe and wonder. He asks great questions. Sometimes he "gets it" better than I do. His childlike faith and confidence amaze me. I have a lot to learn from that sweet and special boy.

9. Coffee.
I have loved coffee for a long time, but this year it has become a necessity...a borderline addiction. I love coffee. I'm drinking a cup right now, as a matter of fact.

10. Quality time with my husband.
Spending time with him is one of my favorite things. He's not much of a talker (as anyone who knows him can attest to) but he's a great listener and a great snuggler. It amazes me how much more I thrive when I've spent time with him, even if it's just sitting together for a few minutes at the end of the day.

11. Giggling with my babies.
Both of my kids are extremely ticklish. I know if I touch them in a certain way (basically anywhere on their bodies from their neck to their toes) they'll break into fits of laughter. Xander can be so serious, so when I do something silly or act a fool (which is often) he thinks it's so funny. I have accents and silly voices, I sing at the top of my lungs, I make funny faces or do things totally out of the blue. Amelia Jayne is constantly giving me her scrunched-up-nose-toothy-grin and tells me "You siddy, Mommy."
I am similar to Xander and tend to take myself too seriously, so I love to act silly with them. I hope both of my kids learn to laugh at themselves from an early age.

12. Serving at my church.
This year I switched from serving every other week to serving every week. I am so glad I made that change. Though it's hard at times to get up early every Sunday and get to church on time (especially since we moved further away) I thoroughly enjoy serving the children and the parents in Waumba Land. I'm grateful to be part of such an amazing church and fulfill the mission of Christ.

13. Coconut Oil.
I have a post coming about this soon, but let me tell you - there are so many uses for this stuff!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One Word

I started thinking about one word that I could focus on for 2014 a few days before the new year approached. I started writing this post just before New Year's Eve. And then I came across this post today. It seemed very timely and I decided I better go ahead and finish this post up before it became irrelevant.

I mentioned in a previous post that "Be Present" was my theme for 2013. This year I want to focus on "Be a blessing." I don't always know how that looks, but in every day interactions I want to choose joy and kindness.
I'm memorizing James 1:19 which says,
" is best to listen much, speak little, and not become angry."

I believe that will help me to be a blessing in many ways.

But my word of the year?


move  (mv)
v. movedmov·ingmoves
1. To change in position from one point to another: moved away from the window.
2. To progress in sequence; go forward: a novel that moves slowly.
3. To follow a specified course: Earth moves around the sun.
4. To progress toward a particular state or condition: moving up in the company; moved into the lead.
5. To go from one residence or location to another; relocate.
6. To start off; depart.
7. To be disposed of by sale: Woolens move slowly in the summer.
8. To change posture or position; stir: was afraid to move.
9. Games To change the position of a piece in a board game.
10. To be put in motion or to turn according to a prescribed motion. Used of machinery.
11. To exhibit great activity or energy.
12. To initiate an action; act.
13. To be active in a particular environment: moves in diplomatic circles.
14. To stir the emotions: words that have the power to move.
15. To make a formal motion in parliamentary procedure: move for an adjournment.
16. To evacuate. Used of the bowels.
1. To change the place or position of: moved her office; could not move his arm.
2. To cause to go from one place to another: moved the crowd away.
3. Games To change (a piece) from one position to another in a board game: moved a pawn.
4. To change the course of: moved the discussion to other matters.
5. To dislodge from a fixed point of view, as by persuasion: "Speak to him, ladies, see if you can move him" (Shakespeare).
6. To prompt to an action; rouse: Anger moved her to speak out.
a. To set or keep in motion.
b. To cause to function.
c. To cause to progress or advance.
a. To arouse the emotions of; affect.
b. To excite or provoke to the expression of an emotion: The film moved me to tears. See Synonyms at affect1.
a. To propose or request in formal parliamentary procedure: moved that a vote be taken.
b. To make formal application to (a court, for example).
10. To dispose of by sale: moved the new merchandise quickly.

I promise you I don't want to pack up my things and move to a different house again this year. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about moving in our city. Moving in my personal life. Moving through my family. Physically becoming fit by moving.

I was thinking about what I want to accomplish this year. And this is it. I want to move in this city and let my path be noticed. I want to move closer to my heavenly Father and more closely in line with Jesus. I want to move along his path.

I've always struggled with weight and this year I feel that if I can get my butt moving then that's half the battle. I'm not resolving to  lose weight, eat better, do a complicated exercise regime. No, this year, I just want to move more.

I want to take action with friends, family, co-workers, strategic partners, etc. I want to live out my love for Christ. I want to move others for Christ.
Acts 17:28
‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Want to join me! Let's move together!

Do you have a word for 2014? I'd love to hear it!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Books I've Read - September-December 2013

A Good American
by Alex George
What a surprise! I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The writing was excellent, the story captivating and the end very satisfying. I randomly picked this book up because I read a review on it. Lately, when I've picked a book up like that, I've been fairly disappointed. I didn't have a whole lot of hope or expectations for this book, but it surprised me and I'm so glad it did. This is a fiction novel told by a member of the third generation of a family who moved to America from Germany. The story follows the first generation couple and moves on throughout the generations of the family. Great read. I highly recommend it.

by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
Great book for moms. There were parts of it that exasperated me, feeling too "churchy" for me, but there was some really great information. It was especially nice to hear that I'm not alone. My mind knows that I'm not, but it never hurts to hear from others who are experiencing many of the things I experience. My heart appreciates that. :)

Cuckoo's Calling

by Robert Galbraith
aka J.K. Rowling
If you're into mysteries, this one is worth reading. It was good, not great. I'm not a huge fan of mysteries, so take that as you may. I felt that it was a little slow at some points, but David reminded me that even the Harry Potter books could be slow at times. I had forgotten since I was so caught up in the characters of those books. Her character development in this book was decent and the writing was very well done. I could definitely see this being part of a series.

When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
This is a children's fiction novel. There was a discussion about it through an email chain at work, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It wasn't a fantastic book as far as children's books go, but I thought it was decent. It introduced me to A Wrinkle in Time, so for that I am certainly grateful. :)

Looking for Alaska
by John Green
Again, John Green did not disappoint. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover. His use of realism, emotion and the plot itself make for a great read. Again, I would highly recommend John Green's works. Brilliant.

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'engle
Tesser Well. You can read about my thoughts on this amazing book here.

I'll See You Again
by Jackie Hance
I don't know why I'm so fascinated with stories of tragedy. I love biographies, and some of my favorites tend to have major tragedies in them. However, I think I've come to realize that it's not the tragedy that intrigues me so, but the triumph. Hope overcomes sadness. Love overcomes fear. I mean, if you read my blog at all you know that love wins. :)
I tried to listen to this audiobook on my commute, but just couldn't get past Jackie Hance's reading voice and accent. She's from New Jersey and has a strong accent, plus she reads the book very stoically and disconnectedly. I can understand why she would want to read it, but, not being the best reader, she probably should've opted for someone else.
I didn't love this book. It feels wrong to say that about someone's autobiography. I appreciated her honesty and her triumph over tragedy that many people would never have been able to overcome. It was truly amazing how her community stepped in to help.

One Thousand Gifts Devotional
by Ann Voskamp
I know I mentioned how I had not quite finished One Thousand Gifts last quarter, but I finished and I thought it worth mentioning that the devotional is quite good, as well. Not only does it give you space to write your 1000 things, but it has some good insight, too. I recommend both the book and the devotional. The way Ann Voskamp writes is very flowery and wordy with lots of imagery. I tend to like that, but if you don't, the devotional would be a better fit. It's a lot more direct, but still gets the message across.

by Stephen King
I am fascinated by Stephen King, but usually can't read his stuff. I don't do scary. It's just not my thing. Life is scary enough without reading stuff from someone else's morbid imagination. However, this was not scary. It was a mystery, but not gory, bloody or frightening. Very good story with great characters. Stephen King really is a great writer and I enjoyed reading this story very much. It had humor and sadness and love. I recommend it. I even got David to read it. :)

Counting by 7s
by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I read a review on this book and thought it looked interesting. I was a bit disappointed in it. Parts of it were interesting, and it certainly had an intriguing plot, but it just wasn't what I thought it would be. It might appeal to a younger audience (it is classified as Young Adult fiction), but overall I didn't care for it.

And the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini

Again, I have to say Khaled Hosseini is a phenomenal storyteller. He did a great job with a moving storyline, interesting characters and emotional moments woven throughout. Of his works, I still like The Kite Runner best, but this is a close second. Nicely done.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan

Such an intriguing book!! This is not for the faint of heart...the language alone makes me want to categorize this as adult fiction even though it is about (and classified for) teenagers. I'm pretty sure I was crazy sheltered as a teenager, because there were words and situations and issues I would never have even known about in high school, and certainly weren't exposed to that early on in my life.
However, it is cleverly written by two authors who each take on their own character "Will Grayson." I didn't really know much of what this book was about when I started it. Honestly, I read it because I love John Green's works so much. Once I got through the first couple of chapters (and the shock of the words on the page - ha!! Oh man, I really am sheltered) I really enjoyed it.
Even though I enjoyed it, I just don't know how I would feel about my 14 year old reading it...since  it's listed for ages 14+. Maybe I'm old-fashioned? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this. Am I just an old fuddy-duddy??

Silver Linings Playbook
by Matthew Quick

David and I saw this movie months ago at the theater. I really enjoyed it, so I figured I'd check out the book. It's taken me awhile to whittle down my reading list enough to get to this one. It's always hard for me to read a book when I've already seen the movie. But the movie was true to the book, which I appreciate. It got a little slow at parts, but overall a good read.

Tell My Sons
by Lt. Col. Mark M. Weber

You all know how much I like biographies, and my disturbing fascination with people's last words, last letters, and people losing loved ones. This story was a bit boring to me. Again, I hate to say that about someone's life, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. The author was very much a military man and he used analogies and army stories so often that I got pretty tired of it. Not saying that's a bad thing, just not my thing. However, he did have some great points and was obviously a very hard-working and ethical man. I'm sure his sons will treasure this book forever. Lt. Col. Mark Weber passed away only a short time after writing this book.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Year in Review

I feel like each year is busier than the next. And I suppose that's true - as children get older, time gets filled up, and more things take priority.

2013 was full of love, laughter, tears, and changes. I'm thankful for so many people in my life and glad to have them going into this new year.

Here is a bit of last year in review:

David and I took a couple of trips - one to Charleston, SC in February and one to the NC mountains (Sapphire Valley) in November. We decided before Xander was born that we would try to get away, just the two of us, at least once a year. It doesn't have to be a big deal, expensive or exotic, just...away. It's amazing how some time alone with your spouse can make you love and appreciate your whole family unit even more. We are incredibly thankful for our parents who keep our kids and make this possible.

We spent time with friends, and friends who are cousins.

We moved to Huntersville in July. The house-hunting began in January and concluded with a house purchased on July 16. We chose to rent our old house out instead of sell it, since the market is still slow in our old neighborhood. We absolutely love our new house! And though the commute is long and some of the logistics have yet to be worked out, we know this was a good choice. When Xander starts kindergarten next fall, we'll especially see the benefits.

We had our annual beach trip with our extended families this summer. It's always so nice to see our Texas family. We love them!

Since my dad and Karen moved back to NC last fall, we've been able to see them more often, which is such a blessing!

We took two trips to the mountains - one to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday in March.

And one for David's family reunion in September.

Xander went to his first Panthers football game.

We hosted Thanksgiving at our new house, which was great. Everything went off without a hitch and it wasn't even too stressful! I had lots of help and everyone was so kind and gracious.

My job continues steadily along. I've been at CML for almost 8 years now, four years of which have been part-time. I still love working part-time and thoroughly enjoy what I do - telling stories, singing songs, reading books and playing with preschoolers. It's a great fit for me and for our family. Scheduling continues to be a challenge for me, but I am so incredibly thankful to have a job, especially one as flexible, fun and fulfilling as the one I have.
The library was rebranded this year. Check it out:

David has been at Neighboring Concepts for almost 3 years now. It's a great group of people whom he enjoys working with. You can go to their website and see some of the great things they've done.

Though we moved further away from our church, we continue to serve and attend there. We've been going there for almost six years and have many friends, believe wholeheartedly in the mission to reach the lost of the city of Charlotte and are very invested. Though the drive is difficult at times, we are excited to continue to be a part of Ridge church for this season of our lives.

Our kiddos continue to grow, develop, try new things, and enjoy life. Having a two-year-old and four-year-old means life is never dull.

Xander continues to thrive at preschool. His writing, coloring, and cutting skills have come a long way. In fact, his printed capital letters look better than many adults' I've seen! He is continuing to learn social skills, though he's in a classroom with mostly girls, so I'm sure he's learning a lot about things he really cares nothing about! The teacher commented on how even-keeled and unwavering he is, even amidst the girl-drama.

Amelia Jayne continues to grow, too. She is now fully 2 and not only tests me at home, but also gets into some trouble at school. There have been a few days that she had to be sent to the "principal's office" (which basically means she was removed from the class for being disruptive). She is smart and witty, too. She is the first to call out her colors, animals, animal sounds, etc. She holds a pencil like a 5-year-old and loves to have stories read to her.

I'm so proud of them!

I am so incredibly thankful for my family.

"Be Present" continued to be my theme throughout 2013.

For 2014, I want to remember to "Be a blessing."

A friend of mine posted this to facebook last week and it struck a chord with me. This year I want to walk closely with my Lord and savior...and to bless those around me.

Happy New Year from my family to yours!